How do you celebrate another year in business? Is it with a blow-out party featuring music and special beverage releases? How about a backyard BBQ with an army of grills/smokers and buffet lines of meats, salads and desserts for your paid club members? Or have you rented out the local go cart raceway for a family-friendly event to celebrate employees and their loved ones?
There are hundreds of TACTICS to celebrate an anniversary – that’s the fun part. But there are only two STRATEGIES to celebrate an anniversary. As an owner or manager, will you:
- Focus on you and what you’ve accomplished.
- Focus on everyone else responsible for your success.
Seems almost like a question from a personality or leadership assessment, doesn’t it? One where you know how you WOULD answer but you’re afraid that’s not how you SHOULD answer? There’s no judgment here: most craft producers actually take a more inward approach to recognizing milestone dates like anniversaries. And that’s okay! You have a lot to be proud of, starting with the monumental accomplishment of keeping the lights on during the past couple years. We ask you to consider a radically different approach to celebrating: one which focuses squarely on the people who make it possible; the community that supports you; and finally, the product and your reason for being. Only after you’ve acknowledged everything and everyone outside yourself, THEN you can puff your chest out and take a little bit of the credit for your success. Let’s dive into proven tactics to acknowledge the people behind your craft beverage.
Where would you be without your team? Front-of-house, Production Team, Marketing and Sales…all a vital part of the success story. So why is it that very few owners/managers shine the spotlight on the individuals during anniversary celebrations? While some of the following ideas are more practical than others, all are ways to elevate team members and their contributions to the company’s overall success:
- Profile your people: “introduce” your team members to fans and followers by telling a bit of their story. Use social and digital means to share photos and personality, length of time with the business, favorite drinks and recipes, etc. And sure, you can include a cute pet photo in there 😊
- Serve your team: put owners and managers behind the bar for the day! Giving team members a break recognizes how hard they work in service of customers while reminding management of the challenges inherent to those roles. Create banners or signage for outside your tasting room, thanking team members for another great year!
- Design anniversary merchandise: all employees get to wear a commemorative shirt on the date of the celebration, regardless of position (front- or back-of-house). This grows the spirt of community and energy in the facility while creating a “billboard effect” for customers seeing your brand proudly displayed.
- Give them a bonus: if your budget allows for annual bonuses, consider paying out around the anniversary celebration. This creates an even stronger tie to individuals being rewarded for their contribution to overall company performance. Remember, it doesn’t have to be huge! Gift cards to local businesses are always appreciated. Or reward them with a paid day off or by making a [tax-deductible] donation to their favorite local charity.
- Give gag awards: call out individuals on your team in a fun and playful way. Longest or shortest tenure, worst bedhead, best selfie, most creative customer service incident…these are just a few of the ways to recognize team members for their contributions.
- Let them take over social channels: give one or a small group of individuals the keys to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok for the day. Have them share a perspective (with guidelines of course) on what’s it’s like to work for you. Encourage them to share with friends, increasing the audience for your brand.
- Conduct a contest or giveaway: give team members the chance at big or small prizes, gift cards, bragging rights, etc. Dream up challenges where winners earn extra entries into the contest. Share the winners publicly with visitors to the tasting room and on social channels.
Focusing on the people during your anniversary celebration may take a little more work than you think. But the effort will pay dividends for the rest of the year in employee engagement and feeling valued at work. Continuing the trend of looking outside yourself, it’s time to turn our attention to the local and craft beverage community that supports you!
Someone has to buy your beverages in order to stay in business! That starts with the immediate community of people within 15-20 miles of your tasting room. But think more broadly than just customers here: it’s anyone who has helped make possible your existence. From city council to industry associations, retailers to sponsored events, local businesses to customers at the bar, there is a lot of outside interest in your success. We came up with a handful of ways to say Thanks! for the support:
- Donate to a local charity: this is most relevant to craft beverage businesses and those charities that naturally align with their brand or mission. For example, water conservation or anti-cruelty to pets. If you have donated in the past, consider making a contribution in the name of your anniversary, then plus-up with social media posts.
- Advertise: take out a highly-visible ad in the local newspaper or online thanking the community for a great year! Consider offering a BOGO or other discount to help drive traffic as a secondary message.
- Host a Community Appreciation Day: with drink specials, games, music, food and other family-friendly activities. Be sure to use all possible channels to promote, including local community calendars.
- Send a press release: by now you have curated a list of local and regional journalists who are friendly to the craft beverage industry and your brand. Send them an announcement of your upcoming anniversary and the milestone moments during the previous year.
- Volunteer: mobilize your team to volunteer for a community group or cause. Consider breaking your team into groups of four in order to stagger the schedule, giving those individuals a paid day off to volunteer for a work-sponsored event.
- Host a progressive or crawl: coordinate an effort with 4-6 other tasting rooms in your area to offer customers discounts for visiting each over a time period (preferably around your anniversary date).
- Dedicate a landmark: not as common, but giving back to the community could also take the form of sponsoring the local river or central park, for example. This could link back to volunteer days and keeping the area clean.
A recent example of acknowledging the local and craft beer community comes from Denver Beer Co. Now 11 years young, they began their anniversary invitation to fans and followers with, “We’d like to celebrate this momentous 11th anniversary with a moment of gratitude for the entire Denver Beer Co community.” Very classy! They go on to outline special beer releases, commemorative merchandise, food trucks and more. This is a great way to share the spotlight in a natural, thoughtful way.
This last category uses tactics to draw attention (and traffic) to your product. It’s probably the easiest to brainstorm, because it includes the categories you’re used to: new releases, events, giveaways, etc. But think creatively here – the same-old event isn’t going to pique someone’s interest, let alone drive them to your brewery to taste your product!
- Target ads in Facebook: use existing creative, such as a high-performing post, or create new promotional imagery for your upcoming anniversary party and design an ad targeting new audiences and geographies. Goal is to create awareness outside of your current fans and followers. Note: boosted posts and targeted ads have different options in Facebook.
- Release a new beverage: typically the Production Team will hold back one or two offerings to make available for milestone moments during the year. But what if you were to collaborate with peers locally on a beverage celebrating the local community, timing the release around your anniversary?
- Host an online contest: blow your customers’ minds with a “name the next drink” or “be our guest Bartender for a day” giveaway. Use the hook of awarding the prize onsite during the anniversary celebration to help drive traffic to the event.
- Livestream your musician: not everyone will be able to make it to your party. Consider broadcasting your event live on Facebook to share the energy and excitement with as many [new and existing] fans as possible. Make the call-to-action Liking your Facebook Page for discounts, new releases and events.
- Think thematically about games: backyard games like corn hole are great. But what if you skinned the boards with branding from your business? Or created a progressive set of events meant to be completed in order for some prize? Helping organize [structured] engagement with your activities helps build momentum and energy, gets people involved and prompts people to drink socially (have you ever played corn hole without a drink in your hand?!).
- Honor all discounts: your anniversary party is the perfect time to honor all the normal discounts, including Military, First-Responders, Law Enforcement, Teachers and other essential groups, in addition to dollars-off for local enthusiasts and hobbyists.
- Produce commemorative merchandise: depending on the size of your current customer base and the turnout you expect for your party, it’s always a good idea to at least make a commemorative glass or gift available to customers. This is even more relevant after you’ve reached your 5-year anniversary mark. Consider t-shirts only if they can maintain their relevance/cool factor 3-6 months after the event (if there’s excess inventory to sell through).
Our friends at SKA Brewing in Durango, Colorado, traditionally invite other breweries to pour at their anniversary celebrations. In doing so, they not only are using their platform/party to help promote the craft beer industry overall, but they’re introducing their beers to new audiences. Plus they’ve been known to pull out all the stops for anniversaries: like inviting The Mighty Mighty BossToneS to jam at their 2021 event. Fantastic!